Saturday, July 18, 2009

On-line newspapers

I've written how many newspapers I read per week, ok, and again, 3-5 papers, 4-5 days per week. And those are the print ones. I also read several on-line ones from across the nation. While I read editorials of most of them, I don't routinely read columns or blogs. There aren't any blogs or columns I find captivating enough to read every publication of it.

And the rant here? Simple. What I hate about on-line newspapers are several things you don't find in print newspapers, or at least in the same manner or format. And these are?

First, the format. Ever been to an on-line newspaper? Notice how busy they are trying to present tidbits to everyone's interest. The first thing you have to do is find the navigation bar - and remember all of design of Web pages has been studied for years as an adaption to the design of print media, which is really not about the medium but instinctive human reading habit - and then remember it for that Website.

Then you have to figure out the organization of the Website. They obviously know the main items for the moment have to go on the top third to half of the Web (depending on your screen and browser window size). They know few on-line readers scroll, and most don't even remember to scroll thinking there's more below the bottom of the browser window. So, it's the biggest bang for the buck, as they say.

Then you have to sort out the organization, the what's where of what you want or interested in at the moment. In short, the first time visitor takes 20-30 seconds to get the lay of the layout, what's where. Repeat visitors however, still have to check to see if nothing has changed, however, small, like moving catagories in the organization and on the navigation bar. Then you can focus on the content.

But this is when and where print and on-line papers change. First are the ads. In print, they're there and you can choose to read them or read around them. On-line has two types of ads, those pesky teasers which display all sorts of treats or temptations to click on them, including using animation and video. Except almost all are bad, really bad. Then the on-line ones go one step father.

The stick the ads in your face two ways. The ever-present popups which have been around for a number of years to which all browsers have popup blockers now. But the worst are the new types, ones which display before you can read the article. You have to click "continue" to continue. No print paper keeps pushing an ad in front of you before you can turn the page.

And then the recent one I've found, and on one of my favorite newspaper Websites too, The New York Times, is the history control. When you click the back button, you stay there. Holding down the back button shows the NYT article is listed several times in the history file. That's simply a cheap trick. A print paper doesn't keep you from turning pages or force you back to the same page when you try to turn the page.

Anyway, it's just a rant on the differences. I'll still continue to read both. I have one against print papers, like the price.

Yeah, the price. Last year 5 daily papers cost me about $5. Now they cost $7. Sunday was $8 and now they're $10. They're slowly pricing themselves out of a market, but not me for awhile. I love reading them with breakfast or lunch. There's still something about the print version. So far anyway.

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